In a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, consumers pay regional farmers upfront for a share in the season’s harvest. This helps cover production costs and ensures a steady market, helping smaller farmers remain in business. The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and Maryland’s One Straw Farm established the first CSA project at JHSPH in 2007 and have since connected hundreds of faculty, students and staff to fresh, local, certified organic produce while communicating key food system issues. In 2011, the Center began offering members the option to supplement their produce with a share of antibiotic-free, pasture-raised poultry from Albright Farms. Members may join the One Straw Farm Produce CSA, the Albright Farms Poultry CSA, or both. Read More >
“So, where do the leftover veggies go?” It’s a common question around here, especially on Tuesdays.
The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, connecting students, faculty and staff with fresh, organic, Maryland-grown produce. Those who have paid upfront for a share of the season’s harvest at Maryland’s One Straw Farm stop by the JHSPH parking garage every Tuesday to pick up their shares.
At the end of the day, at least a dozen crates of unclaimed produce remain. Some folks just aren’t crazy about, say, chard, but CLF and One Straw Farm donate most of the extra shares. Since August, we’ve been sending this produce to the Franciscan Center of Baltimore, an outreach agency that has been providing emergency assistance and support to those who need it for 42 years-and serving hot meals for 30. On a typical day, the Center serves 400 meals. At the end of the month, when SNAP benefits run out, the number runs closer to 600.
Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the Franciscan Center with two of my colleagues. We were met with a warm welcome from Ed McNally, the new Executive Director of the Center. An attorney and former Roman Catholic priest, Ed stressed the importance of treating each client with respect. One of the main goals of the Franciscan Center is to recognize the dignity of each human being, and this intention is apparent: the facility is immaculate and the staff and volunteers tremendously kind. A mural brightens the dining room and positive messages throughout the building uplift passers-by. The Center has an open door policy: rather than requiring proof of homelessness or unemployment, the staff and volunteers welcome as many clients as they can accommodate.
Ed stressed the importance of serving fresh, healthy food in an emergency assistance setting like this one. Read More >
At the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, we’ve been getting a lot of greens in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. But as it turns out, our willingness to enjoy (or even just to tolerate) the unexpected results of the growing process helps keep small farms economically viable, particularly during agricultural disasters.
Our CSA is an arrangement where customers subscribe to a weekly share of produce from a local, organic farmer. Unlike shopping in a supermarket, customers receive whatever seasonal produce survives the myriad of environmental dangers that threaten a crop – insects, weeds, fungi or lousy weather. Because of the unpredictable contents of a CSA “shopping cart,” CSA members typically exhibit a great deal of culinary adaptation and flexibility. This season was no exception – when we were expecting winter squash, we instead received bundles of delicious leafy greens. For some this was a blessing, but others had exhausted their repertoire of kale recipes and began yearning for more variety.
In an age where large scale industrial farming operations dominate our food system, a counterrevolution focused on local and sustainable agriculture is growing. Data collected in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that 12,549 farms in the United States reported marketing products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement. One of the primary ways this counterrevolution is manifesting itself is through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. CSAs are operations in which consumers pay a fixed fee at the beginning of a growing season in exchange for local, often organic, produce (and sometimes meat and dairy products as well). While reports about global warming and climate change, and the U.S’s astronomical ecological footprint (calculate your own) can make the problems we face today seem overwhelming, CSAs provide an opportunity to be part of the solution, to help make one’s lifestyle more sustainable, more healthy, and frankly, more fun.
As a CSA member, I receive eight local, seasonal, types of produce every week (though some CSAs also sell partial shares at farmers’ markets, where members can pick a given number of items from those available each week). Each week, I am surprised by at least one vegetable I’ve never heard of (e.g. garlic tail). The challenge, as in the Food Network show, Chopped, is to conjure something delicious out of this basket of unknowns. Thanks to some tips from experienced locavores, I’ve enjoyed a decent amount of success (as measured by the approval of my family, as strict a panel of judges as any on the show). Read More >
In addressing far-reaching global issues like public health, nutrition, social justice and the environment, the road to creating positive change in these areas often begins in our own neighborhood.
Baltimore City, home to the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the School of Public Health, suffers from stark disparities in access to healthy foods. A 2008 study found predominantly black and low-income neighborhoods offered significantly fewer options for healthy foods than their predominantly white and higher-income counterparts. This phenomenon is not unique to our city, and the downstream effects to conditions like obesity and diabetes are all too familiar among low-income and minority neighborhoods across the nation.
There is, in the eyes of some, a touch of irony in the proximity between the country’s premier school of public health and some of the most severe nutritional and health disparities. A converse perspective, however, highlights an opportunity – and a responsibility – to bring the school’s ample faculty of mind, energy and capital to bear upon these concerns. A strong company of faculty, staff and students, working alongside community leaders, businesses and laypersons, has been continually engaged in a concerted movement to meet the nutritional and health needs of a city that hungers for genuine sustenance.